The 8th Baronet of Luss

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sir_ivar_colquhounTHE man who brought international golf to Loch Lomondside but fought fiercely to preserve the beauty of the area, Clan Chief Sir Ivar Iain Colquhoun, 8th Baronet, died peacefully on January 31 2008 at the age of 92 at home at Camstradden on his beloved Loch Lomondside, just outside the village of Luss.

Sir Ivar (right) — the 30th Chief of Luss and 32nd of Colquhoun — was the longest serving Clan Chief of Colquhoun, having succeeded to the title almost 60 years ago in November 1948.

With his death, the last of the great post-war generation of landowning Scottish clan chiefs — familiar names such as Cameron of Lochiel, Fraser of Lovat, the Dukes of Atholl and Montrose — came to an end.

Sir Ivar was born on January 4 1916, the eldest of five children of Lieutenant Colonel Sir lain Colquhoun, 7th Baronet, and Geraldine Bryde Dinah Tennant, and was educated at Eton.

On the outbreak of World War Two, Sir Ivar was in Finland working on a lumber camp. He joined the 58th Battalion, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders as a private soldier, and was seconded to the Army Skiing Battalion.

He returned to Finland to disrupt the German invasion but on Finland's capitulation, the battalion was disbanded. He then saw active service as an officer in the Kings Company (now Queen’s Company), Grenadier Guards, and in the Coldstream Guards, mainly in the North African desert, being demobbed in the rank of captain.

He married Kathleen Nimmo Duncan, daughter of Walter Atholl Duncan, on April 17 1943 and settled the family at Camstradden. His eldest son, Torquhil, was born in 1944, followed by Iona (below left), now the Dowager Duchess of Argyll, in 1945 and Malcolm Rory (below right), who has become Clan Chief, in 1947.

After succeeding to the title, Sir Ivar took over the hereditary duties associated with his position, becoming a JP in 1951 and Deputy Lieutenant of the County of Dunbartonshire in 1952. He was also Honorary Sheriff of Dunbartonshire.

As Hereditary Bearer of the Pastoral Staff of Kessog, the local saint, he was entitled to depict the staff as one of his heraldic badges, but the holy staff itself has long since vanished.

The legacy he had been left by his father, which in those days extended to some 70,000 acres on the west side of Loch Lomond, was not in good shape — business matters had never been Sir lain's forte — and so he was initially advised to sell. It was advice he did not take.

He lived at the family mansion of Rossdhu until 1972, when economic reality meant that large houses such as this were no longer viable, and moved back to Camstradden where he had embarked on married life almost 30 years before.

Rossdhu eventually became the clubhouse of the world famous Loch Lomond Golf Club. However, it is still in the ownership of Luss Estates, contains furniture and paintings still belonging to the family, and its future as a focal point for Clan Colquhoun members is assured.

He won a five year campaign in 1983 against BP who had built the Finnart oil terminal on his land. Eventually, the Court of Session gave permission for Sir Ivar to claim that the company had made use of 300 yards on the foreshore on Loch Long.

In 1986, Sir Ivar was involved in a dispute with the Ministry of Defence who wanted to build the £10duchess_of_argyll million haul road through Glen Fruin to access Faslane and the RN Armament Depot at Coulport. Sir Ivar called it ‘the rape of the glen’ and demanded compensation.

His own land projects sometimes resulted in controversy, as with the unsuccessful and very unpopular proposal in 2000 by Luss Estates to build a £20m supermarket beside Helensburgh Pier.

Another proposal to build a new house at Arden drew local authority ire, but the scheme went through.

He was devoted to the conservation of Luss village, home of the STV soap ‘Take The High Road’ and considered by many to be the prettiest village in Scotland.

In 1999, when Luss Estates published plans to build a retail and restaurant complex, planning permission was given after it was shown that the development would enhance the village and businesses.

For years he held out against indiscriminate development on Loch Lomondside, and the fact that today much of the west side remains relatively as it was is thanks to his efforts.

Sir Ivar had a great interest in and considerable knowledge of clan and genealogical matters, although in his later years he delegated many of his duties, including those as Chieftain of Luss Games, to his son Malcolm, his elder son Torquhil having tragically died in 1963.

He served for many years between the 1950s and 1970s as chairman of the British Sailors' Society, a charity dear to his heart. He was a keen sailor, and knew and loved the inlets and passages around the Western Isles. He was chairman in Scotland of the Prince of Wales Sea Training School.

He was a countryman through and through, never happier than when out with his gun, or in his garden, or inspecting one of the forestry schemes that he assiduously cultivated on his estate.

Lady Colquhoun died in April 2007 on their 64th wedding anniversary, and Sir Ivar lived out the rest of his days at Camstradden, becoming ill in August of that year with a recurrence of a cancer problem from many years before.

Although he kept himself largely to himself, he was a familiar figure around Helensburgh with his dogs and brightly coloured cars. He was a generous host, and a knowledgeable and witty companion to his many friends.

Sir Ivar deserves to be remembered for having rescued and replenished his threadbare inheritance and, in so doing, preserving the ancestral lands of Clan Colquhoun for posterity — a considerable achievement, and one of which he was enormously proud.

On behalf of the Clan Colquhoun Society, Helensburgh man George Kirkpatrick said: "The society was formed — more accurately, re-formed after two abortive attempts in the 19th century and the 1960s — in 1998.

“At that date, because of Sir Ivar's advancing years, I have to say that he was not in a position to play a very active role in the formation and activities of the society, but it is true to say that he was very happy to endorse its establishment.

"His wife, Lady Kathleen, was very pro-active and frequently attended Gatherings and other events related to the society's affairs, such as the opening of the Clan Museum in Luss.

sir_malcolm_colquhoun"I think it would be fair to say that Sir Ivar, while unable to play a direct part in our activities, was undoubtedly very supportive of what the society was trying to achieve in preserving and enhancing knowledge of the Clan's heritage.

"His son, now Sir Malcolm, took on his father's duties in the later stages of his life. He is very closely involved in the affairs of the society and is our president.”

Sir Ivar is succeeded in the baronetcy by his surviving son Malcolm (60), who is married to Katharine. They have three children, Patrick (27), Fergus (16) and Georgina (15).

The funeral at Luss Parish Church was conducted by a family friend who also conducted Lady Colquhoun's funeral.

His coffin, led by a piper, was taken by boat from his home to Luss Pier, then carried through the village to the church by Luss Estates staff. A private cremation followed.

  • This article is based on information supplied to the Helensburgh Advertiser by Sir Malcolm Colquhoun, and on published obituaries. The pictures were taken by Donald Fullarton at the opening of the Arrochar mountain rescue team base — on land made available by Sir Ivar — in April 2004.